As Chandrayaan 2 lands near the Moon's uncharted south pole in the early hours of Saturday, Lucknow will celebrate a dual connect with India's ambitious lunar mission.
There's Mission Director Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, who did her MSc in Physics from the University of Lucknow, and young Rashi Verma, the daughter of a farmer who has been chosen to watch the landing along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ISRO's Bengaluru headquarters.
Verma, a Class 10 student of DPS Jankipuram in Lucknow, is among 60 students selected to witness the proceedings based on an online quiz on space and science conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from August 10-25.
Two top scoring students from each state and Union territory have been invited by the space agency to watch at its centre here the landing of Chandrayaan 2's "Vikram" module on the lunar surface.
All hyped up before leaving for Bengaluru along with her father, Rashi had said, "Given a chance, I would like to talk to the Prime Minister." The girl, who has been hogging the limelight ever since her selection, has her eyes fixed on becoming an IAS officer.
Karidhal's teachers and mentors at the University of Lucknow recall her as a very bright student. "The entire department is feeling proud on the achievements of Ritu Karidhal, who did her MSc in Physics from this department in 1996," Poonam Tandon, head of the Physics department at the university, said.
"Today, she is certainly a role model for the current batch of students. The entire department is excited over her success and that of the ISRO. She is indeed a proud alumnus of the department," she added.
Verma, on her part, has made both her school and city proud in her achievement that takes her to Bengaluru. Hailing from a humble background, the feat of the shy, calm girl has also drilled the importance of resilience among her school mates.
"We are proud that our classmate will be sitting alongside the prime minister to witness history being made in country''s space mission. Her feat has made us feel great and has proved to be a motivation for us," Rashi's classmate Kabir Khan said.
Another student, Deepak Prakash, is confident that the lunar mission will be a success and plans to witness it on TV.
A year junior to Prakash, Neha feels Chandrayaan-2 is as much a mission for the school as it is of the ISRO.
She, however, regrets not having taken seriously a call by teachers to participate in the quiz seriously and feels she has missed out on a great opportunity.
As excitement was palpable among students over the event, the school, on its part, plans to record it for those who might miss out on the direct telecast.
"We have discovered that happiness, achievement and success are contagious. The entire school and teachers are pepped up that when a calm, shy girl like her can be in the centre stage, so can anyone else with their hard work and diligence," principal of DPS, Neeru Bhaskar told PTI.
The school had an informal session in the last period on Friday, during which teachers and students held an interaction on the lunar mission and "the interest seen indicate that our students will be having late night viewing", she said.
DPS director Javed Hashmi feels it is a proud moment for the school and had a word of praise for the teachers who made special efforts to prepare the students for the quiz.
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